Have you ever had a flight get cancelled for no reason? Landed in your destination but discovered your bags were at another airport? Have you been booked in the wrong hotel room?
These are all common experiences in travel, and they can be frustrating for travelers.
People love to travel for fun, work or adventure, but they are often faced with less-than-stellar experiences. What modern travelers really want are personalized experiences they can control. There is a big opportunity for innovation in travel, especially with new customer experience technology.
Entrepreneur Peter Diamandis refers to these as “exponential technologies” because they have the power to massively transform how we live and work. These technologies have huge applications in travel and could totally change how we plan a trip and actually see the world. Exponential technologies aren’t just for the future—they are being used now to address pain points in the customer travel journey and to create seamless, personalized trips.
Here are 10 ways innovation is changing the travel customer experience.
1. Artificial Intelligence
AI is a powerful force in travel. It can sort through huge amounts of data to provide personalized recommendations about what travelers might want to see and experience. The luxury hotel Dorchester Collection used AI to analyze guest reviews and then changed its breakfast menu to match customers preferences and feedback. AI can also automate aspects of travel and create a fast and efficient customer experience.
2. Smart Rooms
Imagine being able to control every aspect of a hotel room with your voice. Smart rooms are already in use at InterContinental Hotels in China and will likely spread throughout the world soon. Guests can use voice commands for a human-like interaction, and the AI-powered rooms listen and can change the music, adjust the lights and blinds and change the temperature.
Instead of guests having to wait on hold, a number of hotels are creating chatbots. These bots make it easy to use text or voice commands to book a reservation, check flight status or plan an itinerary. Hotel chain Aloft even uses a bot that allows guests to text a few emojis to order room service without having to talk to anyone. It’s much more convenient for guests and can be done on their schedule.
Nothing ruins a vacation like the airline losing your bags. Delta has a new app that visually maps out where a passenger’s luggage is so that people can track its movement through the airport. The app puts the power in the passenger’s hands and lets them know their bags are in the right place. Other travel apps translate languages in real time, give live updates of where your plane is in the sky and help find last-minute hotels for a smooth travel experience.
5. Augmented Reality
AR puts a virtual overlay onto the real world and has a number of potential applications in the travel industry. A recent survey found that nearly half of all travelers would be interested in using AR to find out information about interesting sites and attractions. British resort Premier Inn uses The Hub Hotel, an augmented reality wall map that gives guests extra information about places of interest when they look at it through a smartphone or tablet.
Today’s travelers want an experience that is customized to their needs. A number of brands do a great job of tracking consumer trends and creating personalized profiles for each person. They know why a person is traveling, who they are with and what they are interested in. Carnival Cruises useswristbands to alert passengers about attractions and events they might be interested in based on their preferences and where they are on the ship.
7. User-Generated Content
In today’s connected world, travelers want to share what they are doing and know they can trust recommendations from friends and fellow travelers. Many brands are turning to user-generated content to showcase their locations and services. River cruise line Uniworld adds user-generated content to its website so that potential guests can see the ships and trips from another traveler’s point of view.
8. Virtual Reality
Imagine being able to see the view from a hotel room across the world from the comfort of your living room. Virtual reality allows travelers to test out experiences before they book a trip. Select Marriott locations use “VR Postcards” to allow guests to preview locations around the world. The service is popular with tech-savvy millennials. Guests can preview hotel rooms, attractions and experiences as if they’re really there. It helps guests ensure they are spending their time and money wisely and planning the trip of their dreams.
Often called the currency of the future, bitcoin is a universal payment system that keeps data safe and secure. A common fear of travelers is having their money or personal information stolen, and bitcoin takes away both of those possibilities. More than 3,100 bitcoin ATMs are popping up around the world, which makes it easier for travelers to withdraw money by entering their phone number, pin and scanning their palm—no cards required.
10. Autonomous Vehicles
Any talk of the future has to include self-driving cars. The technology may be closer than we think that could take people around a city without a human driver. The possibilities are endless—it could mean more access to taxis and public transportation and even a robot describing what you are driving past in a new place. Tesla, Google, and other car manufacturers are creating self-driving cars that can make even a short trip a much more pleasant experience.
Blake Morgan is a keynote speaker, author and futurist. For more from Blake sign up for her customer experience weekly newsletter here.